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Ongoing project

National passionfruit breeding and evaluation program (PF19000)

Key research provider: Southern Cross University

What's it all about?

Beginning in 2020, this investment is continuing to develop and evaluate new scion varieties of passionfruit to ensure the sustainability of the industry. This iteration of the project will build on the work completed by National passionfruit breeding program (PF15000) which made progress towards the release of new commercial varieties before varietal decline affects the profitability of current ones such as Sweetheart and Misty Gem.

Broadly speaking, the project will:

  • Increase confidence around future variety performance for the passionfruit industry through a variety replacement strategy that addresses current decline of variety performance
  • Make available high performing selections with an increased yield of first-grade fruit and maintained consumer appeal as compared to standard varieties (Misty Gem and/or Sweetheart)
  • Provide new knowledge relating to the genetics of fruit shelf life
  • Establish a passionfruit breeding resource, comprising of a breeding strategy, traits information, an industry arboretum and variety performance trial data.

Since project commencement, more than 300 seedlings from controlled cross-pollinations have been assessed across four sites in northern New South Wales (NNSW) and south east Queensland (SEQ), with the majority at the Alstonville trial site.

From May 2021, first-stage vines for the 2020-2021 season were evaluated for seven characteristics, scored in the field for vines that were producing fruit: vine health, shell colour, fruit size, shell hardness, fruit disease, fruit blemishes, and productivity. As a result, 14 vines (about 5 per cent) were selected for second-stage trialling in the 2021-2022 season.

For second-stage assessment of 23 different genotypes, 111 vines were grafted from cuttings and planted across four sites in NNSW and SEQ. Following evaluation, three genotypes were selected for third-stage trialling across multiple sites, while seven others will be maintained for potential as breeding parents.

Establishing a breeding management system (BMS) to record project breeding information is a central goal of project. Specialised data management software by Integrated Breeding Platform is an in-kind contribution to the project by Southern Cross University. Training commenced in April 2021 and a secure passionfruit-specific module has been established.

Project updates were shared with industry stakeholders, including a presentation to the virtual Passionfruit Australia AGM that outlined program aims and progress to date.


Read this article National Passionfruit Breeding and Evaluation Program in the Winter 2021 edition of The Passion Vine magazine, pages 16-17

During the current reporting period, the Southern Cross University project team generated seedlings from 19 different crosses and 12 parents. In total, 339 vines were planted for 1st, 2nd and 3rd stage trials in northern NSW for the 2021-2022 season. Trial sites were not established in Queensland during this season due to concerns about ongoing COVID-related border restrictions.

The intellectual property register was updated to include seed accessions created from pollinations in the Summer of 2020-2021 and also the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stage vines planted for the 2021-2022 season. The list of seed bank accessions includes those from the previous project PF15000 and those created from pollinations for the current project PF19000. In total, 608 seed accessions are stored in the seed bank.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Passionruit Fund